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Virtual Research Institute is a program which finances research with high commercialization potential in one of the key areas for society, which is medical biotechnology - oncology. The Ministry of Education and Science has earmarked PLN 450 million for the program.

The program is addressed to Polish scientists, representatives of universities and scientific and research institutes. 

- WIB is an innovative undertaking not only on a Polish scale, but also on an international scale - says Dr Andrzej Dybczyński, director of Łukasiewicz - PORT Polish Technology Development Centre in Wroclaw, which manages the programme. - Our goal is to support research that not only has high scientific and social value, but also has a real chance of commercialization, i.e. entering the market. This is exactly what the winning project is, combining scientific excellence with understanding of the needs of the modern pharmaceutical industry - emphasises doctor Dybczyński.

PLN 70 million for oncology development

PLN 70 million will go to a team of scientists who will work on new methods of cancer therapy. 

The team consists of: International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw (leader of the research team), University of Warsaw, Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Warsaw Medical University.

The project "Horizon of excellence in the application of matrix RNA in immuno-oncology [HERO]" was recognized by experts primarily due to its high scientific value and high commercialization potential of the expected results - mRNA technology is currently one of the most innovative directions of development in the pharmaceutical industry and is the subject of its serious interest.

The competence of the team members, who have numerous scientific successes and significant achievements in commercialization, was also highly valued.

On 17 January 2022 in the headquarters of Łukasiewicz - PORT in Wroclaw an agreement was signed with the Research Team, which was selected in the first competition of the Virtual Research Institute program. Scientists have received nearly 70 million PLN for research on new methods of cancer therapy.

Highest marks awarded by experts

The project selected for funding received the highest marks from experts both for its high substantive level and the commercialization potential of the assumed research results, i.e. the prospect of their introduction on the market. The mRNA technology is currently one of the most innovative directions of development in the pharmaceutical industry and is of great interest to it.

- In the last decade we have witnessed a worldwide transformation of the medication market. The majority of best selling therapeutics are not small molecules produced by means of classical medicinal chemistry, but the so-called biological drugs, mainly recombinant proteins, including monoclonal antibodies - says Prof. Andrzej Dziembowski, the leader of HERO project and the head of RNA Biology Laboratory - ERA Chairs Group in MIBMiK. - The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated further transformation, and mRNA vaccines appeared on the market. This is a relatively new technology that has many limitations related to RNA instability, heterogeneity of synthesized RNA, inefficient delivery, and limited capacity to efficiently produce mRNA-encoded proteins. Using our experience and original ideas, this project will develop next-generation therapeutic mRNAs for innovative cancer immunotherapy. Moreover, since therapeutic mRNAs are the future of biological drugs, any significant improvement of this technology may have broad application and be used to prevent and treat many human diseases - explains Prof. Andrzej Dziembowski.

The signing of the funding agreement with the Research Team marks the beginning of a new stage of the WIB programme.

- When organizing the first competition of the Virtual Research Institute, we set the bar high, which gave us a guarantee to choose a project on the world level and to start cooperation with the best Polish scientists with outstanding achievements. I would like to congratulate Professor Dziembowski's team, which met the requirements of the complex evaluation process to the highest degree - says Andrzej Dybczyński, PhD, Director of Łukasiewicz - PORT Polish Technology Development Centre from Wroclaw. - As the Managing Entity we will provide scientists with support. We will play an advisory role, as well as evaluate the effects of research works. We believe that the combination of knowledge and experience of scientists and competence of international experts will allow us to achieve success - he adds.